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Former Clippers in the Playoffs

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It's not my thing really to call the banality of other basketball writers.  Lots of other sites do that really well, so I tend to leave that to them.  But sometimes I come across a piece that's just so silly it can't be ignored.  This is one such piece.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times, apparently just as desperate as I am for something to write about his lottery bound team in these miserable long days before the lottery, decided to focus on 'what might have been' - looking at eight former Sonics playing for the final eight teams in the NBA playoffs.  Eight playoff caliber players.  Sweet noodly FSM!  How good would the Sonics be right now if they had just kept those eight guys?  The answer of course is, not very good.

Let's ignore the simple fact that he happens to be compounding players.  So, yes, it's true that Ray Allen and Wally Sczerbiak and Delonte West and Ira Newble are all former Sonics.  But given that Wally and West arrived in the Allen trade, and were in turn shipped to Cleveland as part of a deal that brought Newble to the Northwest, you couldn't possibly have all of them.  If Ray Allen were a Sonic today, the other three would never have been.

Still, with Allen, Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic all starting for solid playoff teams, it is tempting to engage in a little hypothetical day-dreaming.  What if all those guys were together on the Sonics?  What a team, right?

Wrong.  No hypotheticals necessary.  They were together, for three full seasons, from the point where Ray was acquired at the trade deadline in February 2003 until Radmanovic was traded in February 2006.  And during that time, the Sonics made the playoffs once.  After a 52 win season in 04-05, big things were indeed expected from these three Sonics, the team's three leading scorers that year.  But it didn't work out, Radmanovic was sent to the Clippers, and a couple seasons later Sam Presti decided to start from scratch and got rid of Allen and Lewis.  It's not like any of these players were wasting away on the bench when they were in Seattle, vast pools of untapped talent going to waste.  They were the stars of the team - and the team missed the playoffs.  Time to do something different, it seems to me.

But my strongest reaction to the story was to say to myself "I bet you could find eight former players from any team playing for the eight remaining teams."  I didn't bother to do it for the entire league, but I did it for the Clippers.  Guess how many former Clippers are playing for the final eight playoff teams?  That would be eight.

  • Sam Cassell and Eddie House play for the Boston Celtics, and split time at reserve point guard as it happens.  So far, the Celtics seem surprisingly tied to Cassell - when he plays well, they win.  When he plays poorly (as he did to an extreme degree for two games in Cleveland), they lose.  This is House's third team since his brief stay with the Clippers and he continues to do one thing very well.  As it happens, it's one thing the Clippers have needed for a long time, but I promised myself I wouldn't get nostalgic.
  • Keyon Dooling played a key role for the Orlando Magic this season, as a combo guard, another thing the Clippers could certainly use.  He's a free agent this summer, so if the Clippers actually believe he can lead them to the playoffs, I guess they should bring him back to LA.
  • Brent Barry began his career as a Clipper, a painful memory as he was part of the Antonio McDyess trade (yes, by all means, trade the second pick in the draft for career back Rodney Rogers and 15th pick Barry).  He's now 106 years old and obviously instrumental in the Spurs' success, as evidenced by the fact that they traded him in February.  Barry is also a former Sonic.
  • Lamar Odom and Vladimir Radmanovic and the starting forwards for the Lakers, and the class of this list.  Both of them were allowed to leave the Clippers as free agents - in fact, Odom was restricted, so the Clippers had the right to match Miami's offer.  If there are players on this list to be lamented, these are the guys.  For all the talk of Kobe and Pau, Odom has frequently been the best player for the Lakers this season.
  • Melvin Ely is a backup center for the Hornets.  He pretty much sucks.  If you're going to second-guess anything about Ely, it's the fact that the Clippers drafted him when Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Boozer were on the board.
  • Jason Hart is the third string point guard in Utah.  He is no better or worse than the guys who were manning the point for the Clippers this season, which is why the Clippers were so very, very bad.

So there you have it.  Eight former Clippers still playing in the postseason (OK, Dooling's run ended last night, but you get the idea).  Of course, five of them are free agents this summer, so we could bring them back.  On second thought, maybe it's not such a bad thing that they're gone.

One last thing - there's a cautionary tale for Clips Nation looking at these Sonics.  52 wins and the Western Conference semis in 04-05 - the lottery ever since, starting over from scratch two seasons later, and now moving to Oklahoma.  The Clippers took their place in the Western semis in 05-06 - and have been in the lottery since.  LA hasn't given up yet and has the excuse of injuries to fall back on - but it seems pretty clear where this is leading.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Kansas City Clippers!